September 23, 2023
Get an inside look into the world of NFL cheerleading and explore the pay structure and controversies surrounding compensation. Discover how much NFL cheerleaders make and find out what it takes to become one of these talented performers.


Cheerleading has been a part of the NFL experience since the 1950s, with teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the Indianapolis Colts being among the first to feature cheerleaders. Over the years, the role of cheerleaders has evolved into one of entertainment and support for the team and the fans alike. Today, NFL cheerleaders are highly skilled dancers and performers who bring energy and excitement to the game.

While we might be familiar with their routines and impressive athleticism, the question of how much money NFL cheerleaders make is less well-known. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of compensation that cheerleaders receive and compare their salaries to other professions.

Explaining the Pay Structure

When it comes to compensation, NFL cheerleaders typically earn a combination of hourly pay, game-day pay, and appearance fees. Hourly pay is what they receive for attending rehearsals, practicing, and attending events. Game-day pay is what they earn for performing during games, while appearance fees are paid for appearances in TV commercials, community events, and other promotional appearances.

According to reports, most NFL cheerleaders earn between $75 and $150 per game, which amounts to an annual salary of around $3,000 to $3,500. However, this varies widely depending on the team and location. Some cheerleaders may earn more, particularly veterans who have been with the team for several years. Rookie cheerleaders, on the other hand, may earn less as they try to establish themselves in the industry.

Comparing Salaries

When comparing the salaries of NFL cheerleaders to those of other professions, it’s important to keep in mind the different factors that come into play, such as experience, skill level, and location. However, according to reports, the average salary for a professional dancer in the United States is around $40,000 per year. In contrast, NFL cheerleaders earn significantly less, with many of them working second jobs to make ends meet.

It’s also important to note that many NFL cheerleaders are not considered full-time employees of the team or the league. Instead, they are classified as independent contractors, which means they are not entitled to the same benefits and protections as employees. This is one reason why controversies around minimum wage violations and discrimination have arisen in recent years.

Examining the Role of Cheerleaders

Cheerleaders play an important role in the game of football, and their presence adds value to the fan experience. They not only perform impressive dances and cheers, but also help to promote the team and community. According to reports, NFL cheerleaders can generate revenue for their teams through merchandise and promotions, which means they are not just a cost but an asset to the team.

Investigating Controversies

In recent years, there have been several controversies surrounding the pay and treatment of NFL cheerleaders. One of the most common issues is minimum wage violations, with some teams allegedly paying cheerleaders less than minimum wage for their work. In addition, some cheerleaders have reported experiencing discrimination based on their gender and appearance, such as being required to follow strict dress codes and being subjected to physical inspections.

Featuring Personal Stories

To get a better understanding of the world of NFL cheerleading, we spoke with several cheerleaders to hear their perspectives on compensation and their experiences working for the league.

One cheerleader, who asked to remain anonymous, told us that while she loves her job, the low pay can be discouraging. “It’s tough to make ends meet on such a small salary,” she said. “I work a second job just to pay my bills.” Another cheerleader, who also requested anonymity, shared her experience with discrimination. “We were constantly scrutinized for our appearance,” she said. “It can feel very degrading at times.”


In conclusion, while NFL cheerleaders bring energy and excitement to the game, their compensation and treatment have been the subject of controversy in recent years. Aspiring NFL cheerleaders should be aware of the typical compensation and the potential issues that come with the job. While it’s clear that cheerleading is not a highly paid profession, the love and passion that these dancers bring to their work is immeasurable. As one cheerleader told us, “I love being a cheerleader, despite the challenges. It’s worth it for the opportunity to perform and inspire others.

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